Archive | November 2015

Marked

Marked, by Sl_tingey_markedue Tingey
Published 2015 by Jo Fletcher Books

First read of the books acquired at FantasyCon 2015 is Sue Tingey’s Marked, book 1 of the Soulseer Chronicles.

It is the story of a woman, Lucky de Salle, who sees the dead and makes a living helping them pass on. Her best friend is Kayla, who she believes to be a ghost. When Lucky is asked to return to her old school to exorcise the spirits of two little girls it opens a new phase in her life. She learns there are more worlds than she thought there were and nothing she thought she knew is true.

Marked is the first book of a series and it very much feels like it. I got to the end of the book and felt as though I’d just reached the beginning. There is plot, in that Lucky has to work out what’s going on and what has happened to her best friend, but there are some false starts. Is is a ghost story? Is it a mystery? It’s not really either. The real plot is what choice will Lucky make when faced with a new world?

Lucky is a bit of a Mary Sue character and this is most evident in her relationship with Jamie (the angel) and Jinx (the devil). They are both very taken with her, which I don’t find wildly unrealistic as they both know she’s a demon princess rather than the mousy human she thinks she is, but I find it icky the way they coo about how sweet she is. It’s patronising and infantilising. At the end of the book this love triangle could go either way. It could devolve into Lucky having to choose between them and be all Mills and Boon. Or, it could open into a polyamorous relationship and it would be lovely to see that portrayed. In the demon world polyamory and a full expression of the variety of love is accepted, but on the other hand a high premium is placed on virginity. To my mind those things are contradictory. I hope Tingey takes the opportunity to explore less traditional paths.

It was an easy read and mildly entertaining. I’m aware that the things I don’t like about it are things that have irritated me much more in other books, so they’re not that bad. I think the thing is that it didn’t quite live up to its potential. But if you’re looking for something unchallenging and you like paranormal romance you could do worse.

Boudica: Dreaming the Bull

boudica bullDreaming the Bull is the second of Manda Scott’s Boudica series and covers the period AD 47-54. Breaca and Caradoc, war leaders of the Britons, are in Wales preparing to meet the Roman invasion. Breaca’s brother Ban has become a Roman and is part of the army that Breaca must fight. Inevitably, they lose and Caradoc is captured. He and his children are taken to be part of a triumph in Rome and live there for a few years until a change of Emperor gives them an opportunity to escape. Caradoc recognises Ban, who has become the Roman soldier most feared in Briton, as Breaca’s brother and sends him home to meet her.

The book is structured around historical events and so some of the story arc is lost. It’s a very long book and sometimes feels like a bit of a slog. I found that it was best when I had a couple of hours to read and I could really get into it. There’s moments of beautiful writing and the pace is quite fast, but, for me, there is a sense of doom pervading the whole book. Breaca and her people, the way of life and communing with the gods so wonderfully imagined, don’t survive. Rome will destroy the dreamers and I find that very sad.

I didn’t enjoy Dreaming the Bull as much as Dreaming the Eagle. There was a lot I liked about it but reading it was an effort.

Why do you choose books?

At FantasyCon 2015 one the panels discussed why people choose a book out of the thousands available to them. Some people go for covers, some like a good blurb, a few will read the first page. Me, I love a great title.

What about you?